To set you straight, I am by no means lamenting the disappearance of
midriffs. In fact, there have been occasions that have scarred me
forever—some bare stomachs most certainly could have done with a little
modesty. However, it seems strange that what was considered chic a
little over a decade ago is now a taboo for everyone but pop stars and
rednecks. When did exposed bellies go from in to out?
Remember fashion icon Cher, not the singer, but the Beverly Hills,
Emma-Woodhouse-inspired heroine of Clueless? How many of her
oh-so-adorable schoolgirl outfits tastefully displayed her abs? Many.
Remember the Spice Girls? Granted, their clothing was pretty ridiculous
even for the nineties, but girls everywhere were copying their look,
including the exposed midriff. In fifth grade, I regularly wore a peace
sign shirt that exposed a little tummy. Maybe that says something about
me, regardless, I proceed.
Skin that had been hidden in those days has made its grand debut: the
hemline to skirts and shorts is certainly shrinking, and it is
considered normal and decent for a girl to wear her shorts so short that
they barely cover her underwear. Even boys these days wear short shorts.
(Juno’s Paulie Bleeker comes to mind…) Furthermore, the whole leg
can be now be “decently” exposed with skintight leggings, the bastard
child of Shakespeare and the eighties. After ten years being “like total
faux pas” (said with valley girl accent) leggings have experienced a
Perhaps bellies have become so sexy that we can no longer display them
without breaching the line of decency. They will incite a frenzy of lust
that will disrupt society! Au contraire, maybe in the past ten years
we’ve realized that bellies are so undesirable that we must cover them
How and why do these ideas of decent and indecent change so rapidly
within the zeitgeist? What is it that dictates fashion? How do we
determine the difference between classy and trashy, especially when
are going all Mugatu’s Derelict on us and “distressed” jeans, purposely
made to look working class, were all the rave for some time?
So, are bare stomachs indecent? Or faux pas? From high-end to daywear
fashion, the rules change so often it’s impossible to keep up. But when
considering wearing a belly shirt, I believe the laws of real estate
apply: location, location, location. The beach? Go for it. Costume
party? Go for it. Out to dinner? Not so much.